Literacy and Numeracy

The biggest lessons in Language, literacy and numeracy are learned in the child’s first four years of life.

Literacy and Numeracy

Supporting Literacy and Numeracy with your Children Language, literacy and numeracy are all part of communication. The biggest lessons in communication are learned in the child’s first four years of life. In that time children not only become competent in language and its nuances but they also learn the subtleties of what Goodwin (2006) calls ‘fully embodied practices’ such as gesture and expression. They become skilled communicators. It is never too early to begin helping your child to develop skills in literacy and numeracy.  It can be as much fun for you as it is for your child. The following are some ideas on how to enhance your child’s knowledge and how to take advantage of opportunities in everyday life to practise skills in literacy and numeracy:   In The Car

  • Encourage your children to become familiar with recognising colours by naming the colours of the different cars that pass by.
  • Develop literacy and numeracy games such as counting and keeping a tally of the vans, trucks and buses that you see.
  • On longer journeys listen to a CD of stories and rhymes.
  • Get everyone involved in singing songs and rhymes aloud in the car, as a family.

  Food Shopping

  • Take the opportunity to enhance your child’s vocabulary by using words to differentiate and describe the items that you are buying such as; big, bigger, fresh, frozen, sour, spicy etc.

  Shopping Basket Supporting Literacy

  • Count the items as you are putting them into your shopping basket or trolley.
  • Name the colour  of each item and group them by their different colours.
  • Describe and name the different colours and shapes of items such as fruit and vegetables.
  • At the checkout, when emptying your basket or trolley, encourage your child to name each item as you both place them on the counter.

  Bath time

  • Use different plastic containers to measure water and then pour the water from one container into another, to investigate which containers hold the most water.
  • Describe the temperature of the water using adjectives such as; hot, cold, colder, warm, and warmer.
  • Use describing words when talking about being safe in the bath
  • Use describing words when talking about the way the water moves and the activities that are carried out at bath time e.g. floating, splash, flow, waves, bubbles, drops, washing and drying.
  • Another opportunity to develop vocabulary is to name off the parts of the body as you dry them

  Meal time

  • Use different utensils and containers to measure quantities of food e.g. teaspoon, tablespoon, cup or kitchen scales.

  Measuring Food

  • Set the table with your child, counting and naming the different utensils as you go e.g. knives, forks, spoons, and plates.
  • If possible sit and create a discussion at the dinner table for e.g.  describe the food you are eating and identifying whether it is hot, cold, sweet, salty etc.


  • After doing laundry encourage your child to help you put away their own clothes, naming each item as you put it away.
  • Explore the local library.  Libraries offer a range of activities for young children, such as story times. Attending these sessions is a way to help your child become familiar with the library, and to think of it as a place in which to have fun and enjoy books and stories
  • Playing games can be a valuable way of developing language and literacy. These can be as simple as playing guessing games, rhyming games, ball games, board games, and charades. The game I Spy is perfect example as the games refrain begins, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with  A…… or something red I might be looking at…”
  • Go on themed walks outside, picking a different element to identify on these walks e.g. nature walks, sound walks, sight walks or colour walks.

  Nature Walk

  • Create an environment for your child to easily engage in pretend play by providing open ended props and materials.
  • Also don’t forget the traditional methods of encouraging literacy and numeracy by regularly reading stories to your child, repeatedly singing songs and nursery rhymes with your child and encourage them to draw and write.

  Useful Website The National Adult Literacy Agency’s website Help my Kid Learn.

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